The pit bull terrier mauled Hailey Nunez outside a National City apartment building shortly before 10:30 a.m. when she tried to pet it in the central courtyard at the Laurel Avenue complex, where she and her family live, according to police.
“At least five guys tried to take the dog away but he wouldn’t let go,” Nunez’s uncle Angel Torres said. “One guy grabbed a rock and hit [the dog] in the head five times, but he wouldn`t let go.”
Paramedics took the girl to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, where she was admitted in serious condition with injuries to her face and upper body, Lt. Keith Fifield said.
“I wanted to die because when I saw her I couldn`t believe what happened,” the victim’s mother Ruby Nunez said. ”She had deep cuts under her nose, her shoulder and under her face.”
The 4-year-old is now in stable condition, but her injuries have made her almost unrecognizable, according to her mother.
Officers stopped the owner of the pit bull, 22-year-old Brittany Morgan Gardiner, as she tried to drive away from the complex, where she also lives, according to Fifield.
Gardiner was booked into county jail on suspicion of child endangerment, resisting police and allowing a vicious animal to inflict injury, with arraignment scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
The dog was impounded and will undergo a rabies quarantine, after which it likely will be euthanized, the lieutenant said.
Gardiner told officers she had given the neighbor child permission to pet the canine, believing it had no aggressive tendencies, according to Fifield.